Anxiety Doubles Cancer Mortality in Men


Anxiety is a major health problem that is reaching epidemic levels. According to the National Institute of Health, it affects 38 million Americans each year. Additionally, twice that number (75 million) will suffer from an anxious or depressive illness during some point in their lives. The loss to our society from these illnesses is staggering in terms of individual pain, family strife, school and relationship failure, lost work productivity, and death.

A new study revealed that a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) leads to an increased risk for cancer mortality in men, but not in women. The study, which is the largest to date to examine the link between anxiety and cancer mortality, found that a diagnosis of GAD more than doubled the risk for cancer mortality in men. The study took into account and adjusted for factors know to be associated with cancer mortality risk, such as smoking, alcohol, physical activity level, and chronic physical conditions.


Are There Early Warning Signs?

 Although the findings do not explain why GAD may increase mortality risk, Olivia Remes, a PhD student in the Department of Public Health and Primary Care, said the following about some potential explanations for the association:

“Some studies have shown that men tend to wait a while to go to the doctor when they have a health problem, and they go when the disease tends to be in later, more advanced stages compared to women. So if they have anxiety, which we think could be an early warning signal for poor health, then they might not think that it’s a big deal, not anything that needs to be seen by a doctor. But if it is this underlying signal for poor health, then it could be triggering negative health consequences, like cancer development, and therefore men might be more likely to die earlier from cancer.”

Remes also mentioned that anxiety has been shown to trigger inflammation as well as immunosuppression and over activation of the stress systems, “and this could trigger diseases like cancer down the road”


Lifestyle Factors at Play?

In the past year, 2.4% of women and 1.8% of men were diagnosed with GAD. The women who were diagnosed were more likely to be younger than 65 years, to have a high disability level, and to be current smokers than those without GAD, and were very likely to have been diagnosed with major depression in the past year. Like their female counterparts, men diagnosed with GAD during the past year were more likely to be younger than 65 years than those without GAD. They were also more likely to be single, to have a high level of disability, a higher body mass index and were also more likely to be current smokers and physically inactive.


Twice the Risk

After adjusting for age, marital status, educational level, social class, major depressive disorder, chronic physical conditions, disability, smoking, alcohol intake, and physical activity level, the research team found that in men, GAD was associated with a significant increase in cancer mortality. There was no significant association between GAD and cancer mortality in women.

Untreated anxiety robs people of their quality of life. If you would like to know more about how Amen Clinics can help you with the anxiety in your life, it is important that you call us today at 888-288-9834 or visit us online. You CAN change your brain and change you life!


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